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PC Culture

Jake Tapper vs. Dr. Seuss

A three year-old child holds his new copy during the release of the Dr. Seuss book What Pet Should I Get? at the University of California San Diego’s Geisel Library in San Diego, Calif., in 2015. (Mike Blake/Reuters)

Jake Tapper thinks I misrepresented him as part of what I called “the censorious Left” in a piece the other day. I don’t think I was distorting his views, but he did at least express some skepticism about some of the decisions made by Dr. Seuss Enterprises. Recall that the general line the media are taking is this one: There are images in three of the Dr. Seuss books that many would find offensive, therefore it’s fine to bury all six of them, even the ones in which nobody can figure out what’s supposed to be offensive. Anyway, the Republicans and Fox News are being ridiculous, and that’s the main subject.

Tapper, to his credit, doesn’t quite take this line. After the series of Twitter remarks that I quoted the other day, in which Tapper used the term “empirically racist” to describe two of the Seuss images, he responded to some pushback (from Daniel Radosh, a writer for The Daily Show) suggesting Radosh could be right in suggesting there is nothing particularly offensive in the book On Beyond Zebra! and maybe not in McElligot’s Pool either:


Tapper says in another tweet that it would be good if Dr. Seuss Enterprises would clarify “why they made the decisions they did.”

To me, once you accept the broad idea that disappearing these books is fine because parents can’t be allowed to make their own judgment calls and simply skip a page that contains an offensive or outdated image, you’re a little bit pregnant. You’re contributing to a culture of censoriousness and race hysteria that can never be appeased no matter how many books get withdrawn from circulation. I don’t know how many more books it will take for the center-left to wake up, but I’m not optimistic. As I said in my piece, The Cat in the Hat could be axed tomorrow and I think Jake Tapper and the rest of the media would say, “Well, it is kind of racist, I guess, if you look at it a certain way, maybe. Isn’t Tucker Carlson making too much of this?”

The slope of censoriousness is thickly covered with 10W-40.

I think it’s instructive, and dispiriting, that when the Dr. Seuss news broke, the instinctive reaction of most of the media (in which I include Tapper) was not to say, “Burying books for political reasons is bad on principle” but instead to change the subject to the excesses of Republican politicians and Fox News talking heads. It’s always easier to attack people your audience already doesn’t like than to stand for an endangered principle.


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